November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. In partnership with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) , this year’s focus is on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
You may wonder, why do we need a whole month dedicated to diabetes? Before thinking this is another made-up holiday with the purpose of posting a few images on social media.
Images with the symbol of diabetes – blue circle, think again.
The first National Diabetes Awareness Month was established in 1975, but it wasn’t recognized as such until the mid-1980s. And, November 14 is the World Diabetes Day – the birthday of Dr. Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin.
Ever since then, the number of people with diabetes is constantly increasing. In fact, there are around 114 million Americans with diabetes or prediabetes – that’s 114 million reasons to raise the awareness of this life-long disease.
Even though prediabetes is not a disease, it could quickly develop into type 2 diabetes. According to statistics, 15 to 30% of those with prediabetes will likely become type 2 diabetes patients within 5 years.
The Purpose of the National Diabetes Month
During the entire month, different diabetes organizations launch awareness campaigns and initiatives. They promote awareness messages with the hope to change the lives of those with diabetes for better.
First, the government is cutting diabetes funds at an alarming rate. This means that the general public together with our legislators doesn’t know or care much about the disease.
On the other hand, the cost of drugs has increased so much that many people can’t even afford their insulin. So, putting diabetes in the center of attention for one month is the least we can do for people suffering from this disease.
Secondly, a lot of people feel shame around their diabetes diagnosis, which is around 76%. Namely, 55 percent of people with type 2 diabetes avoid talking about their disease, and 16 percent haven’t even told anyone they have diabetes.
This is really concerning since diabetes is not anyone’s fault. What’s more, these people have nothing to be ashamed for, yet they feel shame and embarrassment in some situations.
For example, when going out to eat, when taking insulin, when stepping on the scale, or when visiting a doctor.
The Emotional Toll of Diabetes
Most people with diabetes feel shame or anxiety because of their diabetes, and the least we could do is try to change that.
For example, you can start caring more for friends or family members with diabetes. You can help them monitor their biomarkers, or even change your diet to support them.
Overall, practicing empathy and compassion for these people is really important for their life-quality and proper diabetes management. If not properly treated, diabetes can lead to many serious health problems, such as vision loss, heart disease, kidney disease, etc.